Eating out in Reykjavik can be a real culinary adventure. Whether you’re keen to sample the delights of New Nordic cuisine, Fusion Food, International Cuisine or traditional Icelandic fare, your wishes will be well catered for. At the top-end, there is a great choice of fine eating establishments –our Top Picks for 2017 (below) really have the wow-factor you’re looking for in a fine-dining experience. There are plenty of quirky little eateries too- often well equipped with books and newspapers where you can while away the odd rainy afternoon.
Icelandic lamb is in a league of its own, as is the local lobster (or langoustine) and of course the ubiquitous, freshly-caught fish. If you want to sample traditional Icelandic dishes, we’d recommend tender local lamb, creamy curried lobster soup, roasted goose and any of the fresh fish, especially the trout or salmon when in season. You might also be intrigued to discover puffin on the menu (which has a rich, gamey flavor) as well as guillemot (a seabird from the auk family) as well as whale meat and cod cheeks.
Unless you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you’ll probably want to avoid the decomposed shark meat, ram’s testicles or the sheep’s head. Don’t worry; even the locals hardly ever eat these questionable delicacies these days. You can’t eat out in Iceland without sampling skyr at least once. It’s a surprisingly low-fat, creamy yoghurt type delight which is used widely in desserts, as well as being eaten on its own. If you’re looking for informal dining, then there are some great pizza places to be found and we challenge you to find anywhere in the world that serves tastier hot-dogs!
Reykjavik is not the cheapest place in Europe for eating out. You might actually find that the difference between a top-end restaurant and a mediocre eating establishment is not that great, so perhaps the answer is to treat yourself to eating in some of the better restaurants during your stay here. When you get the bill, you should find that VAT and service charges are already included so you shouldn’t have to worry about tipping.
Our 5 Top Reykjavik Restaurants Picks for 2017
- 1 Our 5 Top Reykjavik Restaurants Picks for 2017
- 2 Reykjavik – Best for fish
- 3 Reykjavik – The Best for Steak
- 4 Reykjavik – Best Fast Food
- 5 Reykjavik –Best for Pizza
- 6 Reykjavik – Best for Vegetarians
- 7 Reykjavik – Best for Kids
5th place –Food Cellar/ Matarkjallarinn
This bistro-style grill and cocktail bar offers a wide range of amazing meat and seafood dishes, many with an Asian-European fusion twist. The restaurant was recently renovated and there’s a great atmosphere. On the menu there will be something for even the fussiest eaters to enjoy. Many visitors describe the food they ate here as the best, or most exciting cooking they have eaten in Iceland or anywhere. If you can’t make your mind up, you can order lots of different small sized portions so you can try a bit of everything. Look out for the chef’s choice “secret menu”/”surprise menus” for a dining experience you won’t forget. At the weekends there’s live piano music. In the late evening, once the food is out of the way, this place turns into an atmospheric cocktail bar.
Address: Aðalstræti 2-101 Reykjavik
Telephone: +354558 0000
4th place – 3 Frakkar/Þrír Fakkar
This welcoming, family seafood restaurant opened in 1989 and has been going strong ever since. The décor is an eclectic mix of nautical- themed treasures. Literally meaning “Three Overcoats” (no-we’ve no idea why either), it serves traditional Icelandic fresh seafood with lots of cream and butter. Expect the best quality, locally-sourced ingredients. Chef Úlfar Eysteinsson and his son Stefan Úlfarsson will treat you to one of the finest dining experiences in town. As well as delicious seafood, you will have a chance to sample a variety of unusual Icelandic meat dishes. There is a reasonably priced lunch menu.
Advance booking is advisable.
Address: Þrír Frakkar hjá Úlfari, Baldursgata 14, 101 Reykjavík
Telephone: +354 552 3939
3rd place – Grill Market/ Grillmarkadurinn
You’ll find this excellent grill restaurant in an underground cave- like room. The décor is tasteful and very natural. As you’d expect there are a wide range of meats dishes although they also do gluten- free and vegetarian options. This place is of the pricier options, but you get what you pay for. Some diners claim that it serves the best grilled meat they have ever tasted. Expect excellent presentation and truly mouth-watering food in a great setting.
Address: Laekjargata 2A, 101 Reykjavik
Telephone: + 354 571 7777
2nd Place – The Fish Market/ Fiskmarkaourinn
Housed in one of Reykjavik’s oldest buildings, you can expect excellent, locally-sourced fresh fish and seasonal meat cooked to the highest standards. The menu uses modern cooking methods and has a strong Asian influence. This is not a cheap place to eat, but the inspired food is well worth paying for as a culinary adventure you won’t ever forget. Guests can watch food being prepared in the open kitchen. We recommend the tasting menu which is served to your entire table and gives an opportunity to sample some of the best dishes on offer. The sushi here is also outstanding and the desserts are a delight. The presentation is so good that some of the dishes should really be hanging in an art gallery rather than sitting on your plate. Open evenings only. Advance booking recommended. .
Address: Adalstraeti 12, Reykjavik
Telephone: +354 578 8877
1st Place- Seafood Grill/ Sjavargrillio
Let young Chef Gustav Axel Gunnlaugsson take you on a sensational journey of discovery to sample the dishes at the heart of Icelandic top cuisine, cooked with love and inspiration. The minimalist surroundings are decorated with a delightful collection of driftwood and other curiosities from around Iceland. Expect top quality grilled food and so much more. Not just for lovers of seafood (although the seafood is beyond comparison). You’ll find that meat-eaters- vegetarians are also in for a treat. There’s an excellent wine-menu from around the world and a choice of exciting cocktails. You’ll need to book in advance – this place is popular with the locals as well as with tourists. Once you sample what’s on offer, it won’t be hard to see why.
Address: Skólavörðustígur 14,101 Reykjavík
Telephone: + 354 571 1100
Reykjavik – Best for fish
You’ll find that all the restaurants in our Top 5 (above) offer you amazing, beautifully presented fish dishes and these would be our top picks if you want to try the best seafood in town. Other venues we’d recommend for excellent seafood are listed below:
Housed in a historic building, this elegant, nouvelle-cuisine sea-food restaurant is of the best places to try Icelandic lobster (langoustine). Try the seafood feast for a gourmet experience you won’t forget or the wonderful, creamy lobster soup.
Address: Amtmannsstíg 1, 101 Reykjavik
Telephone: +354 561 3303
Fiskfélagið (Fish Company)
Located in a beautifully designed cellar in the heart of the city, the Fish Company restaurant guarantees an unforgettable fine-dining experience. With your chef as the driver, and your waiter as the guide, you will be invited on a culinary trip around Iceland, or, if you prefer, around the world. The Iceland trip is the most popular menu, but whichever dishes you choose, your taste-buds are in for a treat.
Address: Vesturgata 2a, Grófin, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Telephone: + 354 552 5300
Icelandic Fish and Chips
It’s not a top-end dining experience but the fish and chips here are excellent. Using the freshest of fish and other locally-sourced ingredients, the menu offers so much more than your standard English fish and chip shop. Much thought has gone into the ingredients. They use spelt flour in the fish batter and fry the fish in oils high in healthy omego-3 rather than the usual vegetable oils. Fancy a skyr-based dip with those potato wedges? Maybe try the rosemary and apple, or why not try the truffle and tarragon dip? They also do some really good salads. If you’re a fish lover then this place is definitely worth a visit.
Address: Tryggvagata 11, 101 Reykjavík
Telephone: +354 511 1118
Reykjavik – The Best for Steak
Grill Market/ Grillmarkadurinn
Yes, we’ve mentioned this place before (see our 5 Top Picks-above) but although it’s pricey you’ll find the steaks here are truly sublime. Some diners claim that it serves the best grilled meat they have ever tasted. Expect excellent presentation and truly mouth-watering food in a great setting.
Address: Laekjargata 2A, 101 Reykjavik
Telephone: + 354 571 7777
Argentina Steikhus/ Steakhouse
This classic steakhouse first opened its doors in 1989 and has been going strong ever since. All the steaks are made from top-quality Icelandic cattle. As well as all the classic steak dishes you’d expect, you’ll also find excellent Icelandic lamb and good seafood dishes on offer. Children’s menu available.
Address: Baronsstigur 11a, Reykjavik
Telephone: +354 551 9555
Steikhusid/ The Steakhouse
Expect a wide range of beautifully presented, high quality steaks cooked to perfection. Some say that the steaks here are the best you’ll find in the whole of Iceland. The charcoal oven probably has something to do with that.
Address: Tryggvagata 4-6, 101 Reykjavik
Telephone: +354 561 1111
Reykjavik – Best Fast Food
(see also Metro and KFC in kid’s category below)
If you get a sudden craving to eat a hamburger you’ll find everything you need at this great US-style fast-food joint by the Old Harbor. Awesome burgers are cooked to order and you get a decent amount of fries to go with them. All this served with tasty malt shakes at pretty reasonable prices. There aren’t many tables and it can get quite busy.
Address: Geirsgata 1, Reykjavik
This is the place to come to sample the best hot-dogs in town – Bill Clinton did. Served from the back of a converted van, near the Old Harbor, the hot-dogs here are best sampled with as many of the toppings as they let you have.
Address: You’ll find the van on Tryggvagata – you can’t miss it- just look out for the queue of enthusiastic locals picking up their favorite fast food.
Sitting in one of the American-style booths of this popular fast-food restaurant, it will be hard to tell you’re not in the U.S.A. You’ll find all your old favorites here- not just burgers, but also steaks, ribs and some darn good onion rings. The portions are large and the food tastes good. It’s not as cheap as it is in America, but still pretty good value for Iceland. The turn-around time isn’t bad either.
Address: Snorrabraut 56
Reykjavik –Best for Pizza
This is where the locals are most likely to go if they want good quality pizza. Cooked in an open wood-fired pizza oven, the pizzas are truly delicious. There’s a great range of toppings available- something to suit everyone. There are three of these pizzerias in central Reykjavik. These place can get pretty busy.
Address: Suðurlandsbraut 12, 108 Reykjavík, Iceland, Bragagata 38, Reykjavik, Laugavegur 81, Reykjavik.
You can expect great service and a lively atmosphere at this popular pizza house which, intriguingly, doesn’t appear to have a name (apart from the address). As well as pizzas, it also does mains and some interesting small plates (anyone for dung-smoked lamb?). This place stays open until 1am.
Address: Hverfisgata 12, Reykjavik
If you’re looking for reasonably priced pizzas then you might give this place a try. There is the possibility of eating there although this place is also useful for take-aways. This place keeps serving till 2am.
Address: Laugavegi 126, 105 Reykjavik
Reykjavik – Best for Vegetarians
There really aren’t that many dedicated vegetarian restaurants to be found in Reykjavik, but for those who don’t eat meat, you’ll find that many of the top-end restaurants, such as Sjavargrillo (Seafood Grill) and Grillmakadurinn (Grill Market) – see our Top 5 Picks-above, do some pretty amazing vegetarian food. But if top-end dining isn’t your thing, or you just fancy simple vegetarian dishes for a change then you might check out some of these:
Garourinn (Ecstasy Heart Garden)
This great little vegetarian restaurant has a cozy atmosphere and good, simple food. Each week they display the menu for each day in the window and on the website- one soup and one mains. There are vegan and gluten-free options. Closed Sunday.
Address: Klapparstigur 37, 101 Reykjavik
This popular, hip street -food venue has some really tasty health-food options. There is a choice of 4 restaurants-some closed at the weekend. Expect 4 dishes of the day, using fresh, wholesome, locally-sourced ingredients. The menu makes it very clear which options are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and raw-food.
Address (of main outlet): Laugavegur 20b, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Reykjavik – Best for Kids
Yes it is actually a laundry by day (and a lively bar in the night) but we’ve included this place in our kid’s category because as well as enjoying the tasty brunch menu, which includes burgers, pancakes and a reasonably priced kids menu they have an opportunity to play board games or play in the downstairs playroom. There are some good food choices and plenty of books and newspapers for the grown-ups.
Address: Austurstræti 9, 101 Reykjavik
Iceland no longer has McDonalds or Burger King, but Metro is a similar sort of place if that’s what the kids want. Expect burgers, fries kid’s-boxes and toys.
Address: Sudurlandsbraut 5, Reykjavik
There are 3 KFCs in Reykjavik-see website (below) for details. Good play areas and everything you’d expect.
Enjoy Your Dining Experience In Reykjavik
Hopefully this list has something for everyone and something for every occasion. Do make sure that you try out one of our top picks early on during your stay, as you’re likely to want to go back for more. After sampling the wide variety of good food on offer here in Reykjavik, we’re sure you’ll agree with us that the local cuisine exceeds expectations and, if you look in the right places, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for. Enjoy!